David Byrne, Live at Radio City Music Hall, February 28, 2009

David Byrne On Tour Poster

 

David Byrne and Bri­an Eno, both Dork Report favorites, col­lab­o­rat­ed exten­sive­ly between 1978–1980. Many of these clas­sic albums have passed into the musi­cal canon, most espe­cial­ly Talk­ing Heads’ Remain in Light (1980) and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (1981). I believe there are some lin­ger­ing rumors of inter­per­son­al fric­tion, cer­tain­ly with­in the four Talk­ing Heads, but Byrne and Eno appear to have remained in light, as it were. As Byrne relates the sto­ry in the lin­er notes to their new album Every­thing That Hap­pens Will Hap­pen Today, the pos­si­bil­i­ty of his com­plet­ing sev­er­al of Eno’s stock­piled instru­men­tal demos arose over din­ner. The even­tu­al result is a bril­liant new album that is unmis­tak­ably the prod­uct of these two unique musi­cians, but is cer­tain­ly no sequel or retread of past glo­ries.

David Byrne Live at Radio City Music HallSquint and you might see more than some blotch­es of col­or

Tour­ing to sup­port the new mate­r­i­al, Byrne chal­lenged him­self with the self-imposed restric­tion to draw from only the five albums on which he worked with Eno: More Songs about Build­ings and Food, Fear of Music, Remain in Light, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, and Every­thing That Hap­pens Will Hap­pen Today. Even with this self-imposed lim­i­ta­tion of albums that are all, frankly, kind of weird, it’s amaz­ing how many toe-tap­ping pop songs they con­tain.

The excel­lent­ly sequenced set list, most­ly alter­nat­ing between the weird and (rel­a­tive­ly) nor­mal, kept the mas­sive Radio City Music Hall audi­ence singing along. Strange Over­tones, my favorite song from the new album, came first. Talk­ing Heads’ Crosseyed and Pain­less proved an ear­ly cli­max, bring­ing the entire audi­ence to their feet for most of the rest of the show. The only dis­ap­point­ment was that Byrne select­ed only one sin­gle track from the leg­endary My Life in the Bush of Ghosts: Help Me Some­body. It was imag­i­na­tive­ly rearranged with live voic­es replac­ing the original’s found vocals (or as Byrne not­ed that we would call them today, sam­ples). Why not try the same with some of the oth­er great tracks on that album?

David Byrne Live at Radio City Music HallThe long white splotch in the mid­dle is David Byrne and the Rock­ettes!

The stage design was per­fect­ly aus­tere, and decep­tive­ly sim­ple. I espe­cial­ly liked the stark, mono­chro­mat­ic light­ing design. The entire band was clad in white, and three mod­ern dancers accom­pa­nied sev­er­al songs with wit­ti­ly chore­o­graphed rou­tines. The show cli­maxed with a tru­ly barn­storm­ing ver­sion of Burn­ing Down the House, with the entire band dressed in frilly tutus. It could only be com­plet­ed by the star­tling appear­ance by… wait for it… the bloody Rock­ettes! OMGWTF!? Need­less to say, the crowd went bananas.

In short, I had a grand time. Here at The Dork Report, I have few­er qualms about rat­ing movies on a five-star scale than I do con­certs. Movies are cheap enough to rent in con­sume in large gulps. I end up see­ing many bad or mediocre movies, but few con­cerst that sucks. The like­ly expla­na­tion is the expense involved, which often lim­its the con­certs I go to to artists that I already very much like. The only rea­son I didn’t rate this par­tic­u­lar show high­er is that I could imag­ine that if I could time-trav­el back to the 1980s and see the orig­i­nal Talk­ing Heads (prefer­ably dur­ing the peri­od Adri­an Belew was in their live band), that would eas­i­ly by five stars.


Offi­cial album site: EverythingThatHappens.com

Buy David Byrne and Bri­an Eno’s album Every­thing That Hap­pens Will Hap­pen Today from Ama­zon and kick back a few pen­nies to The Dork Report.